Fostering Five-Star Customer Service – Attitude Makes the Difference
Whether you’re maintaining open/positive body language, addressing the patient by name, or taking an interest in the details of the patients’ personal life, all of that adds up to treating the patient with courtesy and respect. Letting the patient know that you respect and value them makes all the difference.
The challenge is not just knowing that these interpersonal skills are important, the REAL challenge is fully implementing and having every member of the organization embrace and use these techniques as part of their on-going interactions with patients, and each other.
Every office gets busy, and sometimes, under pressure, it can be easy to revert to old behavioral habits. To change old behavior it is vital to be intentional — practice good interpersonal skills – with every patient until new behavioral skills become second nature. An effective way to remain intentional is to approach every person who walks through the door as though they are a close friend or family member, treating them with courtesy and respect.
Why Waiting Room Rounding is Essential
The patient’s visit begins the minute they walk through the door, unfortunately, nearly every office visit involves some amount of waiting. The patients’ perception of quality, both service quality and the quality of care, decreases proportionately to the length of wait time (1). Even if the patient receives exemplary care, the frustration of having to wait will impact the patient’s perception of the entire visit experience, not just the time in the lobby or waiting area (2). An effective technique to relieve the patient’s frustration and anxiety is to keep them informed about their wait.
Developing a Waiting Room Rounding Program
The purpose of a waiting room rounding program is twofold; it is, of course, intended to improve the patient’s experience during the wait time, and, as important if not more so, to set the stage for their entire office experience.
Having a designated staff member (or multiple staff as needed) assigned to perform waiting room rounding is the first step. Each patient’s waiting time should be monitored and as the patient’s wait approaches 15 minutes, patients should be approached in a discrete, warm and friendly manner. Patients should be offered a friendly greeting, perhaps offered some refreshments, and provided an accurate update regarding the expected amount of wait time remaining, and when they may expect to be called-back to the exam or procedure room.
Maintaining a daily log of waiting room rounding activity will allow your team to stay focused and deliver consistent, high-levels of customer service.
Waiting room rounding, implemented in a compassionate professional manner, can be the foundation for creating a culture of service excellence that delivers and treats every patient with courtesy and respect.
Great Phone Communication with Patients Starts with a Smile
In another life I found myself recording podcast voice-overs at the command of a director who was far more experience in the practice than I was. Her most repeated phrase to me was “again, but with a smile.” It seemed so silly to be smiling for an audio-only media package, but when I heard the difference in my takes, I was floored. I could absolutely hear my smile. Speaking with a smile forms the foundation of good phone etiquette with your patients. During appropriate patient conversations, a smile can invoke trust, understanding, compassion, attentiveness, and a myriad of other emotions that will help you provide five-star customer service.